Page images
PDF
EPUB

obliging her, to carry a greater quantity of fail than can be Spread by a fhip with fhorter mafts.

The two following chapters of this fection treat of the raking, or different inclinations given to the mafts, and of the benefit of keeping the fails extended. On the former, it is properly remarked that, when the maft is perpendicular, the direction of the effort of the fail will be horizontal; which is the most fa-, vourable for increafing her velocity; and this pofition of the mafts, we think, fhould always be obferved, unless on account of fome particular quality, either in the build of the veffel, or in the placing of the fteps of the mafts; or unless the difpofition of the lading is unfavourable to her failing.

The last chapter on the theory of working fhips concludes with a propofition, which is a repetition of what has been urged in the 7th chapter, and on which we have already remarked; viz. that there are many cafes in which the adding of a few fails, inftead of increafing a fhip's velocity, retards it.'

As we shall now, for the prefent, defer the continuation of remarks on the remaining part of this work, it may not be improper to offer a few general obfervations on the part which we have here examined.

In a compilation of materials prefented to the public as a fyftem of instruction, the principal merit must confift in the goodnefs of the materials collected, and in their arrangement. For the former, it is almoft an indifpenfible requifite that the compiler fhall poffefs a confiderable degree of knowlege in the science, or profeffion, which he, in a manner, undertakes to teach; in order that his work may be occafionally enriched from his own stores, ory that at leaft he may be fufficiently qualified to judge of, and, when neceffary, to correct, the materials which he felects. Yet, when the task is neglected by profeffional men, if others with lefs information, but with more zeal and industry, bestow pains in the laudable endeavour to promote ufeful inftruction, they certainly merit confiderable praife. There is, however, other praife to which the editor of this work is juftly entitled. The tables contain information of general ufe to feamen, and fome of them (we believe) have not before been published. The prints, likewife, are generally well defigned and neatly executed. The theory of M. Bouguer, which he has adopted,-though, in fome inftances, we think it formed on incomplete data,-contains many juft obfervations, and will not be perused unprofitably by a feaman.

[To be continued.]

Capt. B-y.

ART.

ART. VIII. A fhort History of the British Empire during the Year 1794. By Francis Plowden, L. C. D. 8vo. pp. 377. 55. fewed. Robinsons. 1795.

AN hiftorian ought to be free from all prejudices, or attachment to any thing but truth: he should collect facts, and then ground on them fuch obfervations as they warrant: he ought not to make facts fubfervient to any favourite fyftem, but to deduce his fyftem from the facts: he fhould relate the truth, without caring whom it would ferve or injure; and therefore he ought, as far as human nature will allow, to divest himfelf of all party prepoffeffions, ever having before his eyes the faying-Amicus Plato-Amica Patria-Sed magis Amica Ve

ritas.

If fuch be the duties of an hiftorian, the queftion is, how have they been discharged by Dr. Plowden? We are forry to remark that his production might with more propriety have been entitled "A party- reprefentation of the events of the year 1794," than a history. His main object evidently was to condemn his majesty's minifters, and to reprefent their management of the war as marked with no lefs imbecility and ignorance than they difplayed arrogance and falfe policy in engaging in it, This object might have been much more easily attained by a fair statement of the different occurrences of the war, from which the public might have plainly deduced the capacity of the prefent fervants of the crown, than by fuch a fpecies of narrative as, manifefting a wish in the author to fix guilt at all events on those whom he treats as political enemies, has a natural tendency to create fufpicion that he is too much under the influence of paffion to be juft. The very first sentence in the work manifefts this undue pre-determination in the mind of the author: The current of events, during the year 1794, (fays he,) is the direct and unavoidable confequence of the plans adopted by the prefent cabinet, as effential to the prefervation of the British Conftitution.' It is not our wish to ftand forwards the apologifts of the exifting administration; nor to undertake to prove that the prefent advisers of the crown have wifely or juftly entered into the war which is defolating the faireft portion of Europe: our only object, in the remarks which we propofe to make, is to fhew that the prefent author is the accufer rather than the impartial judge, and that he has laid his indictment in fuch a way that it is impoffible for him to fupport it; and that, in many inftances, the evidence which he adduces, instead of fuftaining, abfolutely overturns the charge. If the Current of events, during the year 1794, were fuch as could be fairly called the direct and unavoidable confequences of the plans adopted

adopted by the British cabinet,' they must have been diftin&tly forefeen not merely by fome men, but by every man of reflection and information. Many of them, however, (and, fome, events of great magnitude and importance,) were not only not foreseen, but were diametrically oppofite to what might naturally have been expected. Of this defcription Dr. P. himfelf will allow the lofs. of the island of Noirmoutier to have been. It was defended by a body of royalifts, who had to fight for life, property, and families; and who could not, in cafe they loft poffeffion of Noirmoutier, look for a communication by fea with the only power on which they could depend for fupport: yet, with all thofe inducements manfully to maintain their ground, with all the terrors of the guillotine before their eyes, he fays—' It does not appear that the royalifts made that vigorous ftand against the republicans which their defperate fituation required. They made but a flight refiftance, and the republican reports affure us, that though the town be remarkably well fituated for defence, yet that the royalifts furrendered at difcretion, even before the republicans had come within reach of their batteries.' Whether, in this ftatement, he does juftice to the military character of the royalists, or not, furely it will be admitted that, under all the circumftances of the cafe, a furrender at difcretion was not an event that could have been forefeen; and that it was not one of those which our author reprefents as the 'direct and unavoidable confequence of the plans adopted by the British cabinet,'

The abandonment of the lines of Weiffembourg, the railing of the fiege of Landau, the defeat of the combined armies and their forced retreat beyond the Rhine, were events certainly within the bounds of poffibility: but, when it is confidered in how many other points the French were obliged to make extraordinary efforts and exertions, it must be allowed that these events were very far from probable; ftill lefs a direct and unavoidable confequence' of our minifterial plans.

A co-operation with the royalifts in la Vendée was a meafure which our minifters acknowleged they intended to purfue: our author condemns the miniftry for having neglected to do it while it was practicable, and for having undertaken it when the force of the royalifts was broken, and when nothing but miscarriage and difgrace could attend our expedition. The newspaper accounts of debates in the Convention may be useful to an hiftorian: but we believe that a perfon, who wishes to ftate nothing but facts, would fcarcely be fatisfied with fuch being his principal fource of intelligence; and our author has fcarcely drawn from any other on this fubject. Even thofe debates, however, as far as they may be taken for proofs,

fhew

fhew that, when Lord Moira meditated a defcent on the coaft of France, the royalids were ftill in very confiderable force in the provinces of Anjou and Poitou: very late reports made to the Convention ftate that Charette, after having acknowleged the republic, was marching at the head of 15,000 of his own men to compel Stoffet, another leader of the royalifts, to fubmit to the Convention. In our own private opinion, there is ground for accufing minifters of great neglect in the branch of the public fervice refpecting la Vendée: but it by no means appears to us that Dr. P. furnishes a fingle proof which an impartial tribunal would confider as conclufive on that head.

[ocr errors]

We will not animadvert on all the different paflages in this large volume that would furnish ample field for criticism: but we will touch on fome two or three points, by which our readers will be enabled to judge whether the mirror which our author holds up to them can with truth be called 'undeceiving.' In page 94 we find the following paflage:

Sir Charles Grey, in the fpace of about three weeks, completely reduced and made himself master of the valuable island of Martinico. What added much to the fatisfaction of the conqueft was the little blood it cost for out of an army of 10,000 men, which he landed, he did not lofe 400 in the expedition,'

In page 364 the following paffage occurs:

The original force which was intended to have been fent out by Sir Charles Grey was 10,000 effective men; inftead of which number the actual force he landed in the Weft Indies fcarcely exceeded the half of that number; infomuch that when he returned to Europe he did not leave 3000 men behind him to defend thirteen iflands.'

The author will find fome difficulty in reconciling thefe two statements. In the first, he makes Sir Charles Grey land 10,000 men in the island of Martinico, which he conquered with the Jofs of no more than 400. In the fecond, he tells us that the General landed in the Weft Indies with fcarcely more than 5050. It may be faid that, though he took out with him only the latter number, he might have collected fo many regiments from the neighbouring iflands as to make the whole force with which he invaded Martinico amount to 10,000 men but then it must be fhewn that there were actually in the West Indies, before the arrival of Sir Charles Grey, fo many bodies of troops that a fufficient number could be fpared from the different inlands, to enable him to take the field with 10,000 men. We fear that the author will find it impoffible to fhew any fuch thing; for he himself fays that, when Sir Charles Grey returned to Europe, he did not leave behind him 3000 men to defend thirteen lands. X Sickness unquestionably made dreadful ravages among our troops in that quarter of the world: but we

never heard that the mortality was fo great as to carry off not only 7000 of the army under that General's immediate command, but likewise so many other thousands in the other iflands as to reduce the whole effective force in the Weft Indies, throughout our old and our new poffeffions, to less than 3000 men.

Speaking of the measure adopted by miniftry of railing fome Catholic regiments in Ireland, to be officered by thofe gentlemen who formerly held commitlions in the Irith brigade in the French fervice, the author advances as a fact that which the Alightest inquiry would have convinced him was abfolutely unfounded:

The Duke of Portland, in the primitive fervour of his new-born zeal for Toryifm, wished to manifeft the fincerity of his conversion by the multitude of profelytes he could gain over to his new doctrines. It is difficult to fay, how far he judged of the fincerity of other converts by that of his own change. He feems, by his conduct on the prefent eccafion, to have allowed to others a very large retention of their old principles. In order to encourage the recruiting and immediate incorporation of these new corps of Roman Catholics, to whom he could promise no prospect of reward on the British Etablishment, he wrote a molt polite and flattering letter to a gentleman who had the command of one of the regiments, affuring him that, if by a fortunate turn of events the French monarchy fhould be reftored, either during or after the prefent war, and their attachment to their former malter fhould call upon their gratitude for paft favours, they fhould be confidered at full liberty to array themfelves again under their former ftandards. Can there be a more flattering and honourable reward to the longtried loyalty of the Irith nation to the reigning family of our beloved Sovereign, than to invite them to rifk their lives in a calamitous war, under penalties and difabilities, from which he cannot dispense them, and foothe them with the flattering profpect of retiring into the fervice and pay of the French Monarch, for the avowed purpose of fupporting the claims of the Family of Stuart against his Majefty, to whom they have fworn and proved their allegiance ?

r

Here Dr. P. afferts that the avowed purpofe,' for which thefe corps are to be allowed to retire into the fervice and pay of the French monarch, is to fupport the claims of the family of Stuart against his majefty, to whom they have sworn allegiance.' Where did our author learn that the avowed purpofe, for which France kept Irish regiments in her pay, was to fupport the house of Stuart? It is true, indeed, that on the death of James 11. his fon was by Louis XIV. and other potentates acknowleged king of England: but it is a matter of notoriety that, fince the death of that titular king in 1765, France and every other power in Europe have ceafed to recog nize the rights of his houfe; that his eldest fon, now deceased,' was not only not acknowleged by Louis XV. but was ignominicely and publicly arrefted in Paris, by the late Marthal

Daç

« EelmineJätka »